I think of in German, machen ordnung, to make order. It is a brutal process that requires a brutal language. Basically I have to tear a place apart before I can rearrange in a way that allows me to use for a certain purpose. In this case, the space is my study, the place where I use to conduct interviews and write, back when I worked for commercial newspapers. After I decided to write for non-profit organisations, I moved my writing quarters to another room and remade my former office into a silversmith’s office.
A child is dead. In a community as small as ours, the children belong to all of us. This one was lost and perhaps none of us knew the right way to help. We share a sense of failed and regret. That this child’s vanishing does not leave a visible rent in the universe is a mystery. It saddens and angers us that all that might have been is gone forever. We grieve for the family and for the community. Something in each of has flown away. We are diminished.
Think Victorian passions, think pteridomania, think The French Lieutenant’s Woman, think Queen Victoria’s watercolors, Francis Kilvert’s journal. Think ferns, think Wardian case, the first ever terrarium, invented in 1829 by a doctor who sought to protect his ferns from London’s polluted air. Fast forward to the present and think about the role of Pteris vittata, the Chinese Brake Fern in detoxing hazardous waste sites. The process is called phytoremediation.
According to Environmental Protection Agency, 20, 000 fern plants are hard at work filtering arsenic from what was once an apple orchard in Crozet, Virginia where the trees were routinely sprayed with insecticides cointaining lead arsenate. The use of these chemicals was banned in 1970, but
” Today, there are still areas of the site contaminated with arsenic that poses an unacceptable risk to public, ” says EPA’s Myles Barto.
Rather than to rely the traditional method of digging up and disposing of the contaminated soil, the EPA opted for phytoremediation.
“Depending on weather and soil conditions, and the length of the growing season, each fern can extract up to 40-50 mg/kg arsenic from a square foot of soil.” says Barto, adding that ” The result is significantly less waste, perhaps one or two truckloads of waste, rather than 60 or 70 of soil. This technology has been used at several sites around the country but is still considered as an ‘alternative’ when it is compared to traditional techniques.”